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Ten strikes FTA renewals for F1, MotoGP at slight increases

(Clive Mason/Getty Images)

  • Ten to pay about $6m per year for FTA rights to Australian F1 Grand Prix
  • Broadcaster paying around $750,000 for FTA rights to Australian MotoGP race
  • Ten’s experience with both properties key to securing deals through to end-of-2026

Australian commercial broadcaster Ten has secured rights to show the Australian Formula One Grand Prix and Australian MotoGP Grand Prix at slight increases, agreeing both deals to the end of 2026.

Ten is understood to have agreed a four-year deal worth about $6m (€6.03m) per year for free-to-air rights to Australia’s F1 race at Albert Park, Melbourne, from 2023 to 2026. Meanwhile, it is paying about $750,000 (€754,000) for rights to the country’s MotoGP race on Phillip Island over five years, from 2022 to 2026. Both deals are sublicensing agreements with pay-television operator Foxtel, which holds exclusive rights in Australia to both championships.

The deals kicked in prior to the Australian MotoGP Grand Prix Island on 16 October. The 2023 Australian F1 Grand Prix will take place in Melbourne on April 2. The Australian government’s anti-siphoning broadcast list mandates Foxtel to make Australia-hosted races in both F1 and MotoGP available to free-to-air broadcasters.

Ten’s current deal with Foxtel for free-to-air rights to the F1 race in Melbourne is understood to be valued at about $5m per year. Foxtel became the primary broadcaster of Formula One in Australia in 2018 after Ten, F1’s previous main rights partner, ran into financial difficulties midway through the 2015-19 cycle. This prompted F1 to renegotiate its deals in the market, resulting in Foxtel becoming the series’ main partner.

Ten also held free-to-air MotoGP rights from 2019 to 2021, while Foxtel held exclusive pay-television rights over the same period. Sources say that Ten previously contributed significantly towards the production costs of the race, along with a rights fee. It is understood Ten’s new fee is a slight increase on its previous total outlay.

Foxtel shows both the F1 and MotoGP races free-to-air on Fox Sports, as well as on its streaming platform Kayo. Sources say that from Foxtel’s perspective, the deal with Ten does not dilute its audience. Indeed, for the 2022 F1 race at Albert Park, audiences on Foxtel grew by 66 per cent compared to the average national audience for the GP in 2019, while the free-to-air audience declined by 15 per cent. Nevertheless, sources say both races will still offer Ten major commercial as well as strategic advantages until the end of 2026.

F1

Foxtel is paying about $32m per year for exclusive rights to Formula One in its four-year deal from 2023 to 2026. It is understood that commercial broadcaster Nine was uninterested in securing the free-to-air rights after losing out to Foxtel for exclusive F1 rights. Nine had made a ‘hybrid’ offer to the series’ commercial rights-holder Formula One Management, under which Nine would have exploited the rights both on its free-to-air channel and on its subscription streaming service Stan Sports.

Meanwhile, sources say commercial broadcaster Seven has historically not shown an interest in acquiring F1.

Foxtel is understood to have sounded out all of the country’s prominent free-to-air broadcasters but saw Ten’s know-how and experience – along with its financial offer – as an important factor. For Ten, the Australian Grand Prix is one of the country’s major sporting events and offers immense potential to monetise its investment in the rights.

MotoGP

For Ten, the deal for MotoGP rights includes qualification and practice days in addition to the main race, all of which provides opportunities for monetisation. The success and popularity of Australian rider Jack Miller remains a key driver for the increasing viewership of the sport. Foxtel’s ratings for MotoGP are thought to be very strong during what is its first year as the exclusive rights-holder in 2022.

Foxtel’s five-year deal for MotoGP rights, agreed with the championship’s commercial rights-holder Dorna Sports, is worth about $3.75m per year from 2022 to 2026.

At the time, Dorna was bullish on the promotional might and production strength that Foxtel would bring to the property, and sources say this has been borne out this season. It is understood Foxtel also contributes to production costs for the race on Phillip Island as part of performing its host broadcast responsibilities.

In terms of additional free-to-air coverage of MotoGP in Australia Foxtel uses its free streaming platform Kayo Freebies for selected practice and qualifying coverage of other races held outside Australia.

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